Skiing In Flumserberg

A few weeks ago, Jess and I went to Flumserberg to learn to ski. We’ve been living in Switzerland for over two years, so it was a bit overdue!

Flumserberg is the mountain town above Flums, which lies in the Canton of St. Gallen. It’s near enough Zürich that we took a short train over to Sargans. The train starts off along the southern edge of Lake Zurich, then hops over land into a valley system that takes it into the Alps. This valley system has its own lake, Walensee, which is a pretty glacial blue. Also, at this point the train is going along the northern side of the base of Flumserberg. However, there’s only a gondola from a minor train stop on this side, and we like to take the fast Inter-City train, so we go all the way down the valley to the city of Sargans, where multiple valley systems meet. The northernly valley that meets at Sargans leads to Vaduz and Liechtenstein, the southern valley leads to Chur (pronounced “Coor” like the American beer), and the south-east valley leads to Davos.

When entering into Sargans it is hard to miss the castle resting on a prominent hill. Apparently it’s been around since the 1100’s, which means it predates the Old Swiss Confederacy by 200 to 300 years! One thing about Europe I still have trouble grasping is just how large the time scale of everything is. Everything here is a gentle reminder of the burgeoning existential crisis in us all. Anyway, unfortunately we didn’t have the chance to check it out, as we hopped on a local bus that went back up the valley, to Flums, and then up the mountain to Flumserberg. Ah well, maybe another trip!

As it was late into a Friday evening, everything was dark outside the uneventful bus ride.We pretty much got to our hotel room and went straight to bed.

The next morning, we got up early and got prepared for our 4 hours of ski lessons. I woke up feeling like I was starting to fight off a cold, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me! When we signed up for lessons, we had no idea that 4 hours of solid skiing was, well, a heckuva lot. It’s been a very warm winter in Switzerland, and that day was no different: a sunny day with a whopping 10 degrees Celsius (50 Fahrenheit) at 1,300 meters elevation (4,400 ft). Our instructor was Alex, a St. Gallener who had finished up his Masters in Biology at Basel. He did an excellent job at getting Jess and I up to speed! Jess had tried skiing once before but had only mastered the art of head-over-heel tumbling, and I had not skied in about 20 years. But we were pizza-slicing down the slopes by the end of it, tumble-free!

Jessica and I at Flumserberg

However, the heat really got to us. We definitely got some sort of mild heat stroke. Plus, we forgot sunscreen for our lips, so they got burnt. But, we decided to continue our Swiss experience and have an Apero at an Älplibar. There, we got to watch some nordic skiing competition on the television, and listen to some other Swiss do a drinking chant-like ritual. It comes after the “cheers”-ing of each other – which is a serious business, individually “cheers”-ing every other person regardless whether the group is two or twenty. Everyone grabs their drink, and slightly holds it above the table, close to them. Everyone starts with a low “oooh!” that builds up in excitement, and they slowly start to raise the glass towards the center of the table. By the end everyone is yelling in a loud chorus “OOOH!” and clinking glasses and drinking ensues. I have no idea what this is called or how common it is, but I also noticed it at a heavy metal mead bar I frequent in Zurich, so I think it’s some kind of a thing.

After the bar, I manage to grab a panorama of the mountains to the north of Flumserberg. You can see “sleeping Napoleon” in the rightmost mountains. I believe right to left the mountains are: Gauschia, Alvier, Fulfirst, Gamsberg, Chäserugg, Hinterrugg, Schibenstoll, Zuestoll, Brisi.

Peaks northeast of Flumserberg

That night, we had a fondue with a St. Gallener wine from Mels, a town outside of Sargans. It was then I realized just how dehydrated I was! Combined with fighting off the cold from the morning, I didn’t sleep well that night. So the next morning, a Sunday, we were super sore, I was exhausted, and the weather was still going to be warm. We decided to head home and relax and not push ourselves to exhaustion.

Published: Feb 24, 2020 15:58:00 EST
By: Cory Slep